Usually, the Scudder Road Circus sends out a lot of Christmas cards – more than a hundred, I’d guess, to family and friends all over the world – and we start writing them in November. I really like getting cards (especially if said cards are glittery), and I’ve always been a big advocate of Christmas cards as a way of staying in touch with people who have shown you kindness or hospitality or generosity at some point in your life, people whose friendship made a difference in your life. Every year I urge my students to send at least one card to an elderly person of their acquaintance – a family friend, former teacher, relative, or neighbour. One of them asked me, last month, if I counted as sufficiently elderly.
I do not.
This year I’m letting the side down by sending just a handful of cards. It’s not been a ‘usual’ year in any way. We’ve had some fantastic and productive excursions to other places – to the Lakes, to Denmark, to Italy, to Berlin. (Even to Brussels.) But we’ve also had a lot of upheaval, like my radiotherapy earlier this year, and sadness. My mother died in August, and Tom’s younger brother died, quite suddenly, at the end of November. We didn’t have the heart to write cheery cards.
This year has been too strange, perhaps. On some days in Svendborg, I felt an almost perfect happiness, content with every simple pleasure, every small thing. In Bellagio we felt lucky – absolutely lucky – just to be there, every day. But there have been too many days this year rotten with sadness or tiredness, or a combination of both.
We have just a month or so left in Sheffield, then the Scudder Road Circus is on the move again. In February, we pitch our tent in Auckland, New Zealand, my home town, and I start teaching at the university in March. We have more travel planned next year, of course, including a stint teaching in Iowa City in July, and a month-long residency in Latvia starting in mid-November. But for much of the year we’ll be in the southern hemisphere, hoping to stay for a while.
Happy Christmas from me and Tom Moody. We’ll be back in Christmas-card action next year, I promise. The post offices of Latvia are bracing themselves for the onslaught.